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The NBA Is Back: Anticipation Builds, Questions Loom

C's Commentator, Mike Gorman 'pounds it' with Maria Menounos (Courtesy Boston.com)

David Stern and Billy Hunter came to terms to save the NBA season. Here is some reaction to the end of the lockout and 20 thoughts entering the shortened season…

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We want OD-EN! We want OD-EN!

That’s what they were all cheering at The Greatest Bar, just across the street from the Gahhhhden….

This was four years ago, of course. Entering the ’07 Draft, which (at the time) was a moribund event for Celtics nation. The bouncey balls gave us Jeff Green (which turned into Ray Allen) instead of Greg Oden (Thank God) or Kevin Durant (and his backpack).

Since that disappointment, the Celtics have won a championship and came minutes away from a second. The team collectively appears to be on the wrong side of the hill, and is in need of a big roster move to inject hope. Either way, I’m excited for their last stand.

On a larger scale, the NBA being back makes me jacked-up like Ray Liotta during the last 45 minutes of GoodFellas (sans the drugs, obviously). For me, the lockout actually increases my enthusiasm for the season.

Think about it: In the next month, weird bargain/reclamation guys like Oden will be available and being signed like a Sony flat screen bought in haste during a “Black Friday” sale.

With the season rapidly approaching, many questions have to be asked..

How fast are teams going to implement new free-agents?

What about the learning curve for rookies?

And how will the lockout stunt the growth of brewing talent?

Do you feel like you’ve heard these questions before? Well that’s because the same thing happened following the NFL lookout, which made the league the sh!tshow it is today (See Tebow, Tim).

If this lockout has reaffirmed anything, it is how much being a fan of any sport has become knowing not only what happens in between the lines but much more. Components such as business decisions, transactions, and public relations all matter now.

I’m not only excited for the games, I’m excited for the intangibles. The little things, you can’t ignore.

Here are 20 items I’m pumped about as we propel toward opening day on Christmas..

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1. I’m excited for Greg Dickerson to piss Green and tell me that regular season basketball, uhh, matters.

2. I’m excited to pretend the C’s have celebrity fans like the Lakers. This (most notably) includes pretending Donnie Wahlberg qualifies as a real celebrity and isn’t the same Donnie Wahlberg playing a character on Blue Bloods, The Saw franchise, or doing reunion tours with New Kids on the Block.

(Worth stating: Maria Menounos is carrying a dimly lit torch, fighting the good fight, aggressively agreeing as I type this.)

3. I’m excited for Bob Ryan’s assessment of the Celtics. He’s one of the greatest basketball minds in the country, and won’t be pitching 97 mph much longer. The Celtics, in an odd way, are much like Ryan. I’m excited for both beyond this season, but slowly will turn appreciative of the tenures rather then compelled.

4. I’m excited for Mike Gorman to carry Tommy Heinsohn through a back-to-back-to-back 3 game stretch in February. By the way, Tommy has been at that ‘appreciative point’ I was talking about with Ryan/Celtics for roughly 5 years now. We all chose to look the other way.

5. I’m excited for Donny Marshall to get more reps as the color guy.

6. I’m excited about the first “Did you know Avery Bradley was actually more highly recruited out of high school than John Wall?” proclamation.

7. I’m more excited to reply, ” Did you know Tee Martin was drafted ahead of Tom Brady?”

8. I’m excited to see Rajon Rondo take on all the other great point guards the league currently has to offer like CP3, D. Rose, Westbrook, Deron Williams, and John Wall.

I’m excited for Rondo to become the alpha-dog on the team and solidifying the verbification of his last name..

*I know, you’re right, that DOES not make sense. Verb-Ify is in FACT not a real word. Basically, it’s when an athlete or celebrity name becomes a verb.

*The first time I used the term was with American Idol super-der-star!!, Chris Daughtry and “Daughtificate.”

*The term, for the record, is when an artist/band’s entire catalog sound like one long track. Other artists, besides Daughtry, include: 90’s Boy Bands, Drake [his monotone voice, I believe, contributes to his inclusion], Chicago, among many others. This is much like how we can’t tell the difference between pass interference and good coverage in the NFL.

Other great Verb-ify examples include..

          Rondo’D – Making a fool out of someone, showing them up.

          Farve’D – Sexting

          Tebow’D – Well, you know.

          Kardashian’D – Formerly “Gold-Digger”, using marriage for monetary purposes

Moving on…

9. I’m excited for more “Urkel Glasses.” Possibly the most inexplicable fashion trend of the past 25 years.

10. I’m excited to not see any more “classic” Celtics games being played on CSNNE because of the lockout.

11. I’m excited to see Jackie MacMullan (hopefully) get more time on CSNNE programming.

12. I’m excited to watch Michael Felger try to take the Bruins momentum with his Sticks & Stones show and upstage Michael Holley’s Celtics Now program as well as game coverage of the Celtics, featuring Gary Tanguay & the gang.

13. On a national scale, I’m excited for Shaq & Sir Chaz to spar — and Kenny The Jet & C-Webb drop the occasional, “No you didn’t!”, like hype men in rap videos. TNT on Thursday nights could become appointment television.

14. I’m excited to watch the Miami Heat figure it out during the regular season, but still have the same lingering questions the Patriots are facing about playoff shortcomings.

15. I’m excited for Blake Griffin to try to usurp Kobe & the Lakers as L.A.’s most interesting team.

16. I’m (more) excited for Heidi Watney to have an alleged affair with Pau Gasol. (To soon?)

17. I’m excited for Carmelo Anthony to dog it in New York, but show up in the big games (like when the Knicks play the Heat).

18. I’m excited for the Dwight Howard trade talks to fire up and completely handcuff the Magic franchise (since he’s leaving soon and Orlando might as well get market value for him now).

19. I’m excited for Kyrie Irving’s career arc to resemble Kenny Anderson. He will suck at first mainly because of unrealistic expectations then – after 8 years being a journeyman – Irving will settle into a dependable starter (like Anderson was with the Celtics towards the end of his career).

20. Possibly, the most exciting/hyperbolic aspect of the lockout is (surprisingly) the backlash spawning for its conclusion.

The media wants you to feel like David Stern got his wish — opening the season with a triple-header on Christmas. Yes, the Christmas games will rate well. And, yes, it is a bit concerning the league clearly pushed for this date, knowing dollars were at stake and they could capitalize with the hackneyed, “What better Christmas gift then the NBA back in your livingroom!?!?”

All points. All taken. The Bottom Line is ALWAYS $$$.

But do you really think Stern wanted a lock out after coming off last season? He wanted all the momentum gained from the the influx of talent put to a halt?

So many good story-lines (some laid out above) and the product is vastly improved  from the previous “Me-Me-Me First” Era..

(Where team basketball was completely abandoned. This was headlined by guys like Rasheed Wallace, Tracy McGrady, Allen Iverson — also known as the “Post-Jordan, Oh-Crap We Don’t Have Any Likable Stars” Era.)

No.

Of course not.

Even if I do travel down that road, I’d still have to ponder — “Well, why didn’t we scold the NFL for using 9/11 as a buffer of, ‘WE CAN’T BE LOCKED OUT DURING THE TEN YEAR ANNIVERSARY’?” Seems disingenuous to avoid the point in one circumstance and not the other.

Look, I don’t care if the players and owners heard Mariah Carey’s “All I Want For Christmas Is You” and thought, “Oh crap! It’s almost Christmas time and we aren’t close to a deal!”

If that’s what induced progressive discussion, fine.

Bob Ryan was right when he wrote, “The NBA players need to realize there is only one sport this country can’t live without, and it’s not theirs.”

I wouldn’t have really cared if the season was cancelled. Well, beyond asking the predictable “What does this mean?” type-questions like I was the “Double-Rainbow” Guy. And I don’t mind that a lot of people are indifferent about the league.

However, I do mind people aggressively chastising the fans who are excited for the 66-game sprint-of-a-season. Since when did the NBA become soccer? I have to defend the league’s existence? This isn’t a guilty pleasure like admitting to enjoying Entourage. It’s the NBA, I’m excited.

About Ryan Hadfield

Ryan Hadfield is the author of the weekly Sports Media Musings column at Sports Of Boston. Hadfield is known as one of the top sports media critics in Boston. He also contributes to Boston Sports Media Watch. In November 2011, Hadfield helped launch the new SoB Point Taken blog featuring his podcasts & musings on sports, media and culture. Follow Ryan on Twitter.

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